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Editorial: Don't let unions 'gum up' teacher evaluations

This file image shows teens sitting in a

This file image shows teens sitting in a classroom and raising hands to answer aquestion. Credit: iStock

In a spirited session last week with 3,400 delegates of the United Federation of Teachers, the president of New York City's public school teachers proclaimed that the union's new $5.5-billion tentative contract represents the organization's best shot at winning the "war with the reformers."

This revelation -- which happened because a recording of the meeting was sent to the website Chalkbeat -- is big.

Michael Mulgrew not only sneered at "reformers," he admitted that union negotiations on teacher evaluations were aimed to "gum up the works -- because we knew what the lawyers were trying to do."

We know, too. The lawyers were trying to enhance a process that over the years has been notoriously lax.

Mulgrew's revelation is big news not only to those who are following New York City's fight with its teachers. It came just after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo met with leaders of Long Island's teachers unions, and also with Karen Magee, the new president of the New York State United Teachers union.

She won with UFT backing, an unusual move for the city faction, and a platform that took a very aggressive stance against teacher evaluations. The governor said in a statement that he told the union leaders he wants to work with them before the legislative session ends in June to amend the controversial 2012 law requiring that the results of standardized testing account for 20 percent of a teacher's evaluation.

Cuomo, under intense pressure from unions in an election year -- his visit to Long Island two weeks ago was protested by throngs of angry teachers -- might delay tying the student test results to evaluations because of flaws in the rollout of new school curricula based on Common Core standards.

Teacher evaluations need to be fair and a meaningful measure of effectiveness. But in no way should Cuomo let teachers unions "gum up the works."